The year is coming to an end, and usually at this time music writers and the like are prepping their best of lists of the year for albums and singles etc. Many of these lists are just carbon copies of each other and at the end of the day can be quite subjective. So instead of following the pack I have decided to reflect on 2014 and what went down in the music world by compiling a list of the ten things that stood out for me in 2014 music-wise.
· The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame remains a bit of a farce as an institution, and a charade when it comes to the inductions. This comes with the shenanigans this year around KISS’s induction, and the debate that occurs every year around who should be inducted and who is ultimately passed over, with the list of eligible inductees and those passed over growing every year. Expect this to continue to be the case in 2015.
· The issue of streaming and music distribution online continued to be debated this year with YouTube and Spotify at the centre of industry, artist, and fan debate around how people get their music and what this means in terms of artist royalties. YouTube threatened to take down content from independent labels from the platform, while Spotify has had its fair share of detractors, especially when it comes to how much artists receive from having their music on this very popular streaming site. The issue of music distribution will not go away any time soon, especially when you consider the rise in online streaming and the decline of physical sales of music.
· 2014 was going to be the first year that there had not been a newly released album go on to sell a million copies, until Taylor Swift’s 1989 saved the industry from what could have been a significant moment. Despite TayTay’s saving grace, does 2014 signal the beginning of the end for physical album sales? Or will the odd international release and constant flood of re-issues save this failing commercial model? My crystal ball is telling me to continue to wait and see on this one.
· It was quite a news-worthy year for the music scene in New Zealand with Lorde reigning supreme at the Grammys, the Big Day Out festival closing up shop for good now it seems, and Eminem suing the New Zealand National Party for copyright infringement.
· 2014 was a year of hellos and final goodbye’s, with Pink Floyd bowing out with the release of what they say will be their final, final album “The Endless River”. On the reunion circuit Outkast reunited for a series of concerts and festival appearances, while Christine McVie is back with Fleetwood Mac after a 17 year absence.
· In 2014 the music world sadly witnessed the passing of Jack Bruce, Bobby Womack, Tommy Ramone and Pete Seeger, Bobby Keys, and Ian McLagan among others. Rest in Peace.
· In another weird and wacky way of releasing your new album, U2 released their new album “Songs of Innocence” for free through iTunes much to the annoyance of most iTunes subscribers and much to the ridicule of the music press in particular. In the end, this episode really only resulted in bolstering Bono’s ego even more [if that is even possible] as he attempted to defend the move in the wake of the waves of publicity that came the bands way as a result, negative of otherwise.
· Band Aid came back in 2014, this time in support of Ebola, with Bob, Bono and many others singing [not] for snow in Africa this Christmas time, with major lyric changes made to make the song more suitable I guess. At least they got rid of that horrible line “well tonight thank god it’s them instead of you”.
· The Rolling Stones continued their 50th anniversary jaunt, finishing with a concert in Auckland, New Zealand. We shall wait and see as to whether this final show will go down in history as their final ever show, 52 years after their first.
· In 2014, live music continued to boom at the expense of the album among others things, with major festivals and sell out tours dominating all over the globe. This is now the major money earner for artists the world over and arguably [as it probably always has been] the most popular way to listen to music.
– – Sam